Over the last couple of years, we’ve guided our readers in and out of weed investments.
Important legal alert: investing in publicly traded cannabis companies can get you permanently barred from entering the U.S.
Todd Owen, a senior U.S. Customs and Border Protection official spoke recently to the U.S. website Politico, stressing that the October 17, 2018 Canadian legalisation of pot will have zero effect on U.S. border policy
What is the current policy?
Ask Sam Znaimer – a Vancouver BC based venture capitalist and cannabis investor.
In May, 2018, Znaimer was heading to the states on a business trip when he was questioned by U.S. agents about his cannabis investments. He was subsequently banned from entering America for life.
“In the course of four hours, they didn’t ask about pot consumption, and I believe that was because they wanted to send a message to Canadians that it has not only to do with your personal behaviour, but whether in any way you have invested in these companies,” Znaimer told CTV Vancouver.
“Even though recreational marijuana is legal in certain states, possession of the drug is still a criminal offence under U.S. federal law,” stated the CTV article, “This means that border officers have the ability to question Canadians crossing the border about any past cannabis use.”
Canadians who admit to consuming pot use can also face a lifetime ban entering the U.S.
In fact, this writer has been permanently banned from entering the U.S due to a past pot conviction.
There is an escape valve which involves applying for a Waiver I-92.
It’s not a pleasant process.
You pay a USD $595 fee, submit fingerprints, biometrics, a cover letter explaining efforts to “rehabilitate your character after an act of moral turpitude” – and a reference letter from your boss.
Our first I-92 waiver was approved for 1-year.
The second I-92 waiver was approved for 5 years:
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: “A law is a binding custom or practice of a community that is prescribed by a supreme controlling authority.”
A just society must have laws.
For the society to function, its citizens can’t pick and choose which laws they are going to obey.
For this reason, we have never complained about any of the negative repercussions arising from a weed possession conviction – including being barred from the U.S.
Znaimer’s case is different.
He didn’t break any Canadian laws.
Or American ones.
He invested in publicly traded weed companies.
“I was truly shocked by what happened to me,” Znaimer told CTV.
“The U.S have their own rules and views with respect to cannabis, and I would encourage Canadians to respect those rules as they go into the United States,” Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen meekly advised.
“Some people are caught off guard,” U.S. immigration lawyer Len Saunders told CTV, “They think it’s legal in Washington state, which it is. It’s going to be legal in Canada, so what’s the big deal?”
Saunders explained that Znaimer’s case is not unique. He’s seen a growing number of Canadian businesspeople denied entry and even banned for investing in U.S. weed companies.
“We don’t recognize cannabis as a legal business,” confirmed U.S border agent Owen.
The Canadian Marijuana Index includes Canopy Growth (CGC.T), Aurora Cannabis (ACB.T) and Aphria (APH.T). It has a total market cap of about $30 billion. The index has risen 300% in the last year.
Hundreds of thousands of Canadian investors own shares in Canadian and U.S weed companies.
Luckily, Canada has a ballsy young Prime Minister (an admitted past pot-smoker) who is not afraid to stand up to the U.S.
Surely, he’ll get on the blower with President Trump and sort this out.
“Every country has the right to judge who gets to come into their borders or not,” stated Trudeau, “I wouldn’t presume to have any other country tell me how or who we can let into Canada. And I certainly won’t work to assume or impress upon the U.S. who they have to let in or not.’
Len Saunders, the Washington State immigration lawyer believes that “an average investor in cannabis stock would not be barred from the U.S.” Only people “more actively involved in managing their assets.”
“I’m doing a booming business on consultations with Canadians, businesspeople, involved in the cannabis industry,” stated Saunders, “They’re scared.”
Should they be?
U.S custom agents can gain access to your criminal history, health records, police contacts, family members, history of border crossings etc. – but they do not have access to the back-end of the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Being honest is a quality – like decency – that shouldn’t be turned on and off for convenience or self-interest.
Mark Twain (1835 – 1910), wealthy author of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was an unsuccessful entrepreneur. His large early investment in the Paige Compositor – a clumsy mechanical typesetter – drove him into bankruptcy.
But being a bad investor doesn’t make you stupid.
“Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it,” stated Twain.
On reflection, that seems right.
If a U.S. customs agent asks you if you are a cannabis investor, we strongly recommend that you lie.